Beauty Therapy can be exhausting, it is a profession that has combination of sales, hospitality and service.
The 'day to day' running of any business these days can be time consuming but in combination with staying on time, answering the phone, following up on enquires and making appointments as well doing what can be very exacting treatments and services back to back.
The continual pressure of back to back bookings has a compounding effect, leading to lack of care. A beauty therapist can suffer from burn out and overload very quickly, job satisfaction and enthusiasm for her chosen profession starts to wane, tiredness sets in and mistakes are easily made.
- Not caring about the appearance of the treatment room
- Not caring about the small finishing touches to a treatment
- Not caring about re-booking or retail sales
These are just a few of the most common slip-ups, but they can compound into not caring about personal appearance or health and well being. Its a down hill slide, and one the therapists knows she's on, getting off it is very hard.
- What can a therapist do, when what she thought was going to be a pleasurable profession becomes drudgery?
- How can a beauty therapist prevent burnout?
- How can she get back the enthusiasm she had for her profession in the earlier years?
- How can she make the business grow when there seems to be no more hours left in the day to fit in another client?
What I am about to suggest will take care of a number of issues
- Making the business grow
- Slow down the 'burnout' and
- Give the therapist-renewed enthusiasm for her profession.
- Cost around $450.00 per week
Appointment Making, Retail sales and Re-booking
Therapists know that making recommendations for home care and selling the skincare to the client is one of the most important steps in attaining skin correction, yet retail sales are often the smallest part of many clinics income.
When asked why, the answers are always the same, 'there isn't enough time' or 'the client didnt want to talk about her skin', 'I didnt know what to recommend', I couldn't be bothered, I'm so tired.
Re-booking had similar replies, but one we can all relates to I just know, I don't have any appointments available for late nights, Saturdays or after 5pm', so I don't offer or suggest treatments or bookings. Its so embarrassing and clients get cross when I can't fit them in anyway'.
Changes to appointment times will be one of the first steps to take. Back to back booking must become a thing of the past. These changes can be phased in when all new appointments are made.
Begin by changing your appointments that were once allotted a 15min time span into 20min. Then place a 15minute time span between each appointment, this is necessary to implement the retailing phase of the companies new protocol.
Staying focussed on the retailing aspect of this time takes strength of will that for many therapists is hard to find. Breaking old habits like rushing off to clean the wax pot have to be broken by delegating those menial tasks to a student or the receptionist.
Example: A lash tint now has a 20min time span to complete, to this include an extra 15min to complete the service professionally. This 15min is to present all of the products and services that you have to offer. Show the client the elastin & collagen loss around her eyes, then offer an eye cream, a course of eye treatments, eyes makeup and eye makeup removers.
Every option and every choice to make an informed decision.
Were you aware that you have a professional and legal obligation to your client? That it is considered professional negligence not to offer the client all information pertaining to her treatment. And that if something went wrong because you failed to inform her you are liable.
A VERY GOOD REASON TO OFFER ALL OF YOUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES TO THE CLIENT
Taking the time to complete the service by offering retail and complementary treatments is the right thing to do; it eliminates mistakes and ensures a relaxed and happy therapist, because she has fulfilled her professional responsibility to the client.
Financial advantages also come from retail, the 15minutes you set aside to complete your clients service will make you more money than another 15min appointment. The markup on most retail products is 60%, the margins built into your treatments are often only 30 or 40%.
So if you sell an eye cream and eye cleanser both with a markup of 60% built into the retail prices of $45.00 each = $90.00 your profit from that $90.00 is $36.00. Now thats a lot more than what most therapists charge for a lash tint, or brow tidy or even 15min electrolysis. I rest my case.
It is always recommended to electrolysis clients to book ahead, because the effectiveness of the treatment relies on regular appointments. So they automatically re-book, often ahead for six weeks.
What about the less regular client, why isnt she offered the same courtesy? The same importance to booking ahead should be offered to every client especially if she wishes to have a particular appointment time or day, we all know late nights and Saturdays very often have a waiting list as do times between 12pm and 2pm.
An excellent incentive is the "rebooking jar" this can take the form of a large glass urn, bowl or jar, alongside this place a big basket of skin care "goodies". Every time a client rebooks place into the jar a piece of paper on which is the clients name and phone number . At the end of the month if her name is drawn out of the rebooking jar she will win the basket of skin care. These baskets of skincare can be subsidised or supplied by the distributor of your leading skincare range.
Filling those less popular times of the day can be easy by offering an incentive to rebook in those "downtimes" taking the pressure off the other hours. So by creating a rebooking loyalty card with six areas marked out for entering the date & time each time the client rebooks, when it is full the client is offered a discount off her next retail purchase.
The margins on retail are higher than services, about 60%, this means the business can give a 5% discount and still make a profit.
Working smarter not harder! Make every minute count.
Its about working smarter not harder, a result of which is higher profitability and less "burnout".
If you are a sole operator and are considering staff as a way of reducing your workload here is some other options to consider.
Consider employing a full time receptionist instead of another beauty therapist.
Take on the reception duties yourself for a period of time, employing a therapist to do the hands on work. This is a great opportunity to get a "feel" for your business your free to talk to clients before and after treatments and get a greater understanding of what the client concerns are. In addition, this is the your opportunity to put into action the new extended appointment times.
If you have two or more staff and you are all suffering "burn out" here are some options for you to condsider
Workload of reception and hands on beauty therapy is split between yourself and all therapists that are employed.
Employ a full time receptionist.
A good receptionist will give you a more efficient and professional image, and is an immediate buffer between you and the client.
A receptionist will adhere to appointment times set out to the company policy, she will never book you through your lunch hour or break times. A receptionist should be able to do wages and end of day reconcilliation, banking, stock control and place orders. In addition a good receptionist should be able to retail both products and services to those clients that just "pop in" without an appointment.
But probably more importantly than anything else, she is your voice addressing clients enquiries, concerns and appointments. By answering the phone immediately, or clearing the answer phone and returning phone calls, and of course confirming clients appointments for the next day. Not to mention the all important followup phone call after an intensive treatment or if the client has purchased a new skincare regime.
Planning is the key to making changes to a busy working clinic, plan ahead and have a holiday for a week or take a long weekend off, this time is to recharge and put together a new company protocol.
It will be on your return that the new program can go into action.
Now, don't say that it is impossible to take that break, believe it or not, clients will wait a week, not always happily but they will wait. There are many of us older semi retired therapists who will contest to that, we too thought that the clients wouldn't wait, until ill health put us in hospital or we had a nervous break down. So believe me 'they will wait'.
I know that these few suggestions will make a difference, giving renewed enthusiasum for your chosen profession. Florence
About the Author
New Zealand born Florence Barrett-Hill is an internationally acclaimed dermal science educator, practitioner, researcher, and author with over 30 years of experience covering all aspects of professional aesthetic therapy and paramedical skin care. Florence is the creator of the internationally recognised Pastiche Method of advanced skin analysis, and spends her time travelling the world teaching and presenting to skin treatment therapists, practitioners and medical professionals.
Advanced Professional Skin Care
By Peter T. Pugliese, MD
The Topical Agent, LLC ISBN 0-9630-2113-3
Any skin care professional will find this book a wealth of relevant information no matter what level of development of their careers. It is a valuable educational tool that can be referenced to explain almost every aspect of professional skin treatment therapy.
With over 450 pages of superbly explained and illustrated topics, it will be a remarkable and welcome addition to the libraries of skin treatment therapists, colleges and schools worldwide.
Author Peter T Pugliese, MD is a well-respected medical professional with an amazing 50 years experience. For the past 35 years he has engaged in studies and made discoveries, which have influenced professional skin care around the globe.
With these credentials in mind you would expect a very comprehensive text, however it is not written for just those with a medical background. The style of writing is informative and complete without being overly technical. Professional aestheticians, skin treatment therapists and tutors with a modest understanding of skin anatomy & physiology will find this book fascinating and informative.
The book is divided in to 16 logical chapters, each covering in depth subjects such as the anatomy of the skin, an introduction to biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology and immunology, Essential skin physiology, Pathology of skin disorders, Ageing mechanisms and treatment, cosmetic chemistry and so much more.
This is not an inexpensive book, however it must be considered an investment in your knowledge of the skin, its diagnosis and treatment options. It will undoubtedly earn its cost back thousands of times during its years of use.
Price: from US$169.46 + postage & handling. Available online at:
In a recent seminar series in New Zealand I was asked about the issue of keeping a professional distance from staff who you work with, sometimes for up to 40 hours a week.
This is an issue for every salon owner throughout the world and a difficult area within the staff management sphere. Exactly what is the correct distance between authority and friendship, between friend and boss? Unfortunately, there isnt one simple correct way of operating a salon where staff are concerned and what works beautifully in one salon, may be a total mess in another.
However, here are a few suggestions that I believe can help salon owners and managers to maintain a culture of co-operative, friendly professionalism with all staff.
I have long maintained that one of the keys to building a successful salon is to develop the correct salon culture. A culture where staff are recognised, challenged, supported and rewarded for their hard work. These cultures perceive on-going training as a privilege not a chore and see performance reviews as a chance to impress and grow rather than a time to be told they are not good enough.
A culture of diligence and teamship, of trust and honesty, of fun and accomplishment. To have such a culture salon owners need to supply their staff with very clear, achievable and measurable expectations. Everything from behavioural standards, dress regulations, performance targets, defined procedures, salon rules and customer service expectations.
With these expectations in place and reviewed regularly, management can relax their role of overseer to some degree because everyone clearly understands the parameters of their role.
There are clearly defined rules to fall back on that both management and the staff member know exist whenever a performance or behavioural issue arises. This reduces the amount of angst when dealing with staff members that you might consider as a friend.
Without such clearly defined position descriptors management needs to be far more overbearing and diligent in their methods of maintaining performance standards. Less friendly and far more boss-like.
That said, how friendly should staff be allowed to behave with management?
Certainly, most staff know their bosss preferred brand of coffee, the names of their spouse and children, what car they drive, their favourite snack foods, and probably a whole lot more that they didnt even realise. However, they should not privy to their private life, their financial status, their recreational pursuits or their social life. In fact, I suggest to salon owners to be very careful about the amount of information staff know about you.
Whether it is true or not most staff believe that because you own a salon you have plenty of money. They see the money going into the till but dont get to pay the huge rent bill, the product account, the wages, superannuation or insurances. A salon owner I work with was actually confronted by a senior therapist for a substantial pay rise under the misunderstanding the salon was making lots of money.
I suggested that the salon owner sign a cheque for the rent, another for the wages, another for the product suppliers but leave out the amounts. We asked the therapist in question to fill in the amounts from invoices and mail them off. We did this a few days before we were to negotiate her pay request. It was an eye opener for her and subsequently her demands were drastically reduced. Now I am not saying staff need to pay all your bills, however my point is, that rightly or wrongly, staff believe there is wealth in running a salon.
So I have a few suggestions for salon owners to dispel some of these misperceptions.
Don't flaunt that you have lots of money by flashing a wallet full of cash around.
Don't ever take money from the till and put it in your pocket. They will think it is easy to do and that you do not have strict control over the salon finances.
Don't go out socialising or drinking with staff on a regular basis. This is far too familiar and often things are said in a social setting that are regretted later. It can difficult for staff (especially junior staff) to delineate between behaviour acceptable in a social encounter with the expectations of behaviour in the salon.
I love nice cars but I drive a beat up old Holden to the salon, as much because it gets knocked around in the car park as for the fact I don't need to flaunt my wealth to staff. I want them working hard to give the very best service to our clients, not because they think they are making me rich.
Don't invite staff to your home for functions. They don't need to compare how you live to their own residences.
Don't allow friends and family members to simply waltz in and receive free services. Make them pay staff rates even if you refund that money at a later stage. Logically, they will ask why their friends and family can't be offered the same privileges?
Don't take stock off your shelves for home use in front of staff. Either pay for it or do it after hours. They will see this and think if it is OK for you, then it should be OK for them.
Dress appropriately when you visit the salon. That way salon dress standards will remain high and staff will also dress well if they visit the salon on days off.
Have your own treatments after hours. It's all about staff fulfilling their roles completely during their working day. Cleaning, education and client follow up is more important than waxing each other's legs during working hours.
Attend lots of extra education and training yourself as an example to staff.
Be generous with praise, thanks and rewards. However, be very clear about what will happen if there is ever a serious breach of salon protocols, such as theft and be prepared to act on any such breaches decisively.
Every salon owner will have a different way of dealing with staff.
That's human nature. However, whenever there are issues with discipline it is always far more difficult to deal with friends than employees.
There is no magic line that can be drawn in the sand that salon owners should never cross. In fact, it is inevitable that every salon owner will face the dilemma of being too close to a staff member and one day having to discipline them.
The answer is to decide on very clear standards of performance and behaviour, make sure that they are understood and agreed to by all staff and then enforced as praise or discipline. Be sure to maintain very strict standards of behaviour for yourself in the salon. It is almost impossible to expect staff to behave a certain way if you ignore the very same rules. Be an example of the sorts of behaviours and performance standards you expect from your staff and they will follow your lead.
Friends of mine stopped at my doorway recently and took off their shoes. They had watched me do it and respectfully followed suite. They had been to my residence several times and had observed that this was the acceptable behaviour in my home. In many ways, your staff pick up on your example in the salon and will settle for behaviours at your lowest expectation levels.
As an owner you manage staff not simply let them proceed through their life in your salon without direction. It is vital that you know exactly what you want that direction to be and express it clearly to all staff. If this is done the blurry line between friendliness and supervisor can lean more towards friendly, more often.
About the Author
Paul Carbis is a business consultant to the beauty industry around the world. He is often invited to many of the international expos and conferences as a speaker as well as offering salon owners the opportunity to utilise his experience for management help and staff training.